Taumaunu: Cullen has the goods
Thu, 25 Oct 2012 5:26a.m.
By Cathy Walshe
Under-fire rookie centre Kayla Cullen has huge potential in the midcourt, despite the Silver Ferns' recent 20-goal netball Quad Series thrashing by Australia.
Coach Waimarama Taumaunu says Cullen, 20, has been singled out for unfair criticism after a the Silver Ferns were pounded 68-48 last Sunday by the Diamonds in Sydney.
The collective team melt-down left Cullen an obvious target after she stepped in at centre with minimal experience.
The New Zealand mid-court is still a work in progress after losing the experienced duo of Temepara George and Liana Leota, and Taumaunu is continuing to test-drive a range of combinations.
"Kayla got a bit of flak, but I think she still shows a huge amount of natural ability," Taumaunu said ahead of the Silver Ferns' clash against England in Wellington on Thursday.
Cullen's defensive ability, and her skills at feeding the ball into space were both major advantages, she added.
"I still have a huge amount of faith in her."
Cullen says the team's shortcomings weren't limited to one area, and the Silver Ferns as a unit know where they need to improve.
"We're looking to play as a team, because on Sunday it felt like we were all playing as individuals - nothing clicked, all our timing was out.
"We just need to connect more."
Cullen has no qualms about lining up again at centre, and is looking forward to the chance to redeem herself.
"That was my first full game at centre ever, for any team. But if Wai had the confidence in me, then I did. I was ready for it," she told NZ Newswire.
"At first it was such a daunting position, but I love it. Now I have a few more tricks up my sleeve, I'm not going to be running around the court like a madwoman.
"I'm just going to be doing my own job - and trying not to pass the ball to the other team."
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